Go ahead and take a snow day. Or a few. You deserve it.
Since it’s the end of the year, and there’s only so much champagne one can drink while watching Andy Cohen/Anderson Cooper and hoping that 2019 will show 2018 how things should have gone, it’s time to look back at some of the best that the year that was had to offer.
To that end, I contributed some pieces to a few different publications who make a point of cataloging this sort of thing:
- Publishers Weekly: Best Books 2018 – Comics
- PopMatters: The 80 Best Books of 2018
- The Playlist: The 25 Best Films of 2018
Now you’ll have something to do this January besides catch up on new TV shows and ignore your dieting pledges.
For his latest album, Songs of Resistance 1948-2018, guitarist Marc Ribot collaborated with other musicians on a numerous of old and new protest songs.
He enlisted Tom Waits to sing the old anti-fascist Italian folk ballad “Bella Ciao” (“Goodbye Beautiful”). You can hear it here, via the video directed by Jem Cohen (who also shot the classic Fugazi documentary Instrument) which collages footage from recent demonstrations in Washington, D.C. behind Waits’ growling protest lyrics.
From Yascha Mounk’s “America is Not a Democracy“:
…across a range of issues, public policy does not reflect the preferences of the majority of Americans. If it did, the country would look radically different: Marijuana would be legal and campaign contributions more tightly regulated; paid parental leave would be the law of the land and public colleges free; the minimum wage would be higher and gun control much stricter; abortions would be more accessible in the early stages of pregnancy and illegal in the third trimester.
Earlier this week, the risk assessment firm the Eurasia Group published their take on the Top Risks that the world is going to face in 2018. It starts with China (which “loves a vacuum,” particularly the one left by the United States) and ends with Africa and a list of possibly surprising red herrings (among them, “Trump’s White House”):
In the 20 years since we started Eurasia Group, the global environment has had its ups and downs. But if we had to pick one year for a big unexpected crisis—the geopolitical equivalent of the 2008 financial meltdown—it feels like 2018. Sorry…
- Why Blumhouse expanded from horror movies (Get Out, The Purge series) into publishing.
- The Palestinian novel that caused its author to be inundated with death threats.
- “We must respect confidences, just as lawyers and doctors do”—the secret art of the ghostwriter.
- How come everywhere in Washington, D.C. smells like weed now?
- The Big Sort: There’s a voting district in Virginia trending Democratic faster than anywhere else in the country; there’s one in West Virginia going the fastest to Republican.
- It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
- Seeing the latest Transformers with a very unimpressed Chinese audience.
- In latest administration short-sightedness, White House pushes to slash Amtrak funding.
- Print and read: A doctor in rural Minnesota, explaining Islam to his Trump-voting neighbors.
- Getting smashed in the head with the heel of one of Ivanka Trump’s shoes.
- How come there’s no nativist backlash in Canada?
- Stopping suicides in the Sea of Trees.
- So what countries are at the greatest risk now?
- As the temperature rises, get ready to move north.
- The New York Times versus its own copy editors.
- A map of all the nation’s book deserts.
- And now … some book desserts.
- Print and read: What happens when a party abandons everything in a grab for raw power.
- Yes, even with the opioid epidemic, meth is still a very big problem.
- Why are people protesting at Julius Caesar?
- The right’s voter-ID law suppressed 200,000 votes in Wisconsin last year; Trump won the state by a little over 20,000.
- Things to worry about in 2100: Heat, heat, and the heat.
- What the hell is “the flippening“?
- “People just have all their friends from kindergarten” and other reasons it’s hard to make friends in St. Louis.
- Don’t count the Democrats out yet.
- Is Michael Bay a genius? Kinda, and yet not.
- Back in 2015, Seattle raised the minimum wage to $15 and now the analysis is in: The sky didn’t fall and jobs didn’t flee the city.
- Several CIA contractors fired for stealing over $3,000 worth of snacks from vending machines at Langley.
- Print and read: Mark Bowden on North Korea, the worst problem on Earth.
- The Daily Mail “pictures Britain as a place populated by delinquents and bomb-makers, sexual deviants, spongers, social workers and gay bishops, a dark and fruity manifestation of the editor’s daily fears.”
- Here’s the 25 best films of the century so far, how many have you seen (and liked)?
- Beer consumption peaked in 2013, in large part because the Chinese aren’t drinking as much.
- Once people start asking whether the president is out of his mind, is there any way it ends well?
- Who’s buying the president’s properties? Well, that’s (mostly) secret.
- Time to just stop using Uber?
- Turns out that before the financial crash, affluent homeowners were lining up at the subprime mortgage trough as much or more than the poor.
- Print and read: So what does Kris Kobach have against your civil liberties, anyway, and how come Trump is listening to him?
- Getting Somali girls in Minnesota to take part in sports.
- Uranium mining, toxic runoff, the Grand Canyon … what could go wrong?
- Hello single-payer: Looks like Nevada is about to let about 3 million people buy into Medicaid.
- Ladies and gentlemen, the panicker in chief.
- The entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s.
- Spend 15 minutes a day reading the right books and you’d have a good solid education—so was born the famous Five Foot Shelf.
- Cool things: New York’s new Subway Library.
- Print and read: Rebecca Solnit on the most mocked man in the world.
- Bonus print and read: Wonder who runs the world? They meet at the Bellagio to talk money and most of the men look like Jared Kushner.
- Soderbergh is back.
- Sure, the world is burning, but hey, what about her emails?
- How to give a (tiny) middle finger to the world.
Toni Morrison on keeping your life separate from your work.The next Taoiseach of Ireland is probably going to be a gay 38-year-old South Asian doctor.
The (unfinished) Keystone Pipeline is already leaking.
Chinese workers investigating violations at a factory that makes shoes for the First Daughter have gone missing.
- The butterfly that eats crocodile tears.
- Getting the Fox News makeup treatment.
- It’s still not entirely clear whether the president can be charged with a crime.
- How come Guy Ritchie keeps getting hired?
- So what’s going on with conservative intellectuals these days, anyway?
- Criticism of religious extremism ends at the nation’s borders, it would appear.
- A sea of red stippled with blue: the complete precinct-by-precinct 2016 election voting map.
- Print and read: “We called her Lola” – growing up in the suburbs, with a slave.
When you think of cities, there is no other place on Earth that better exemplifies what that word means than New York City. Incubator of pretty much every important cultural genre or trend, nerve center of world capitalism, melting pot of ethnicities and religions, New York City, as they say, has it all.
In my newest book, The Handy New York City Answer Book, on sale now from Visible Ink Press, you’ll get an all-in-one reference that covers everything from the city’s complicated and dramatic history to its geography, sports teams, many peculiarities and personalities, and just about all the trivia that could be packed into 464 pages.
Here’s a few of the things you’ll discover:
- How did New York invent Christmas?
- Where was baseball first played?
- How come police officers tried to scare tourists away from the city in 1975?
- Did punk begin in New York or London?
- How did the 1863 Draft Riots start?
- Did Rudy Giuliani actually save the city?
- Can’t get healthcare? According to this guy, it’s your own dang fault.
- What is sophistication, or, how come Japanese audiences know when to laugh at Woody Allen movies?
- Anybody thinking that maybe another Afghanistan surge is not the best idea right now?
- And in Syria, the U.S. and Turkey are heading toward a possible shooting war … with each other.
- Pyramids of the tech giants: Apple has a new $5 billion building.
- Note to staff: Please stop passing Internet hoaxes to the president, it just gets him all riled up.
- Not just honey bees—now a broad range of insect populations might be collapsing as well.
- Since the president has the attention span of an ADHD-rattled child, leaders at the upcoming NATO summit are limiting their presentations to four minutes or less.
- More cool things of the WPA: the Pack Horse Library of Eastern Kentucky.
- Print and read: How come so many pregnant women are dying in the United States?
- After this week’s Tuesday Afternoon Massacre, here’s a quick refresher on Watergate, just in case that becomes relevant.
- Inside the White House, the president “would sometimes scream at television clips about the [Russia] probe.“
- Turns out, the ex-FBI director wasn’t exactly right about Huma Abedin forwarding thousands of classified emails to husband Anthony Weiner; they only found two.
- Facial scans coming soon to a U.S. airport near you.
- They shall not be questioned: Woman is convicted of disorderly conduct for laughing during Jeff Sessions testimony; meanwhile a reporter in West Virginia is arrested for asking Tom Price a question.
- Of Korean K-Pop, mega-popular fanfiction, and the lesbian billionaire power couple that wasn’t.
- The school that decided, screw it, we don’t need no stinking textbooks.
- Police officer fired by department for not shooting mentally ill man.
- In the Bay Area, some families making over $100,000 a year can still be considered “low-income.”
- Oh, and the head of the Census Bureau just quit because Congress didn’t allot enough money for them to do their job.
- Last call for Spicey?
- Going to Europe? Leave your laptops and tablets at home.
- Print and read: The mortgage interest deduction, aka welfare for the wealthy.
- Bonus print and read: There are many ways Trump could be pushed out of office, but history shows that impeachment won’t happen as long as he remains popular with his party.